To experience CES this year was to experience the sensation of exiting a large football stadium. You essentially walk in a continuous herd of over 180,000 people. There were many noteworthy displays and freebies, as long as you don’t mind standing in line for two hours or having hundreds of people blocking your view. (The only line I stood in was for Starbucks).
I’m also not one for flying taxis or the never-ending release of new television screens. At this point, if you buy an 8K television, it will take years for content producers to catch up to 8K content (which is why you won’t see me covering this as a trend). Although, standing under these curved OLED TVs from LG complete with a dramatic presentation was one of my favorite, personal highlights.
I’ve organized the stampede into a couple of important trends that will impact you as a consumer of technology. I’ll be covering the notable CES trends in a three-part series. These trends include the tipping point for AI-powered assistants, Level 2 vehicle automation and 5G (yes, it’s a big deal).
CES 2019 Becomes Tipping Point for AI-Assistants
You may have heard the shocking statistics regarding daily mobile phone usage. For instance, the average person spends over 4 hours per day looking at their phone. The idea of touching your mobile phone to an obsessive level, especially while driving, will become a long-forgotten concept as we transition to AI-powered voice assistants. Google was clear with CES attendees – AI-powered assistants are the next frontier in technology and Google wants to win.
One of the bigger attractions at CES was a theme park ride that took riders through a Disney-like experience designed to highlight Google Assistant. The characters and landscapes prompted daily tasks through Google Assistant, such as turning off lights, taking selfies, and ordering birthday cakes. It was a costly display that got a lot of media attention.
Here is a brief overview of the Google assistant-powered announcements from CES:
- Google expects Google Assistant to be on 1 billion devices by the end of the month, up from 400 million devices a year ago.
- Google Assistant will be on Google Maps for both iOS and Android
- Google Assistant will be integrated with Android lock screens, Sonos Speakers, Samsung TVs, Dish set-top-boxes, Lenovo alarm clocks, IKEA blinds (yes, you read that right), Anker and JBL to retrofit your car, and has partnered with United to check you in on flights with more airlines on the way.
Amazon Alexa had 80% of the market in early 2018. When new numbers are released, you can expect market share to decrease as Google was growing at 483% growth compared to Amazon’s 8% growth. Here are a few of Amazon’s announcements from CES:
- Alexa, in a partnership with JLB speakers, can be installed into your ceiling through a LED downlight.
- Razer plans to integrate Alexa into its gaming platform
- Amazon announced partnerships with Telenav and HERE technologies, which are both big players in the connected car space. Telenav is a connected car and location-based services provider and HERE sells and licenses mapping and location data, and works with companies such as BMW, Oracle, Facebook and Yahoo! Maps.
- Echo Auto now has over 1 million pre-orders, which is a dongle that plugs into a car’s infotainment system to provide hands-free driving.
Home is Where the Privacy Is
Apple should have an answer for this at WWDC in June, if not sooner. Siri was the original AI powered assistant released four years before Alexa. The only news we got from Apple during the show came from partnership announcements with HomeKit and AirPlay 2 arriving on non-apple devices such as Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony TVs. (Apple does not make announcements at CES, rather Apple makes announcements at its own, proprietary conferences).
However, Apple did make one very bold statement at CES. The statement was in the form of a large ad that stated, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Apple is correct to bring up privacy at a time when tech companies will have more data and information than ever before from AI-powered speakers.
The time we spend touching our mobile phones will define this past decade as a “thing of the past.” The practice of typing everything we are thinking onto a small screen will slowly be replaced by voice activated technology. CES 2019 was a turning point with tech giants revealing AI assistants are the central focus in their strategy moving forward. However, there are serious privacy implications to having a speaker in every room of the house. Google’s Android operating system leaks more data than Facebook, even on Facebook’s worst day. The bottom line is that there are still a lot of questions to be answered before these assistants are in your ceilings, on your blinds, and in your bedroom via the alarm clock. I’ll be looking forward to Apple’s privacy-driven answer at WWDC in June.